The summer-collegiate Midwest Collegiate League is down by two teams after Jamie Toole pulled his franchises, the Will County CrackerJacks and the Illinois Lincolns, from the circuit effective immediately.
Finances and a disagreement over the future of the league were the reasons he pulled the teams, Toole told us via email this morning. It’s been a hard summer in the Chicago area due to hot weather, and neither team gained much traction: 242 fans per game for Will County and 136 fans a game for Illinois. Add in some ballpark problems at the end of June — an outfield fence in Will County was torn down and the field suffered damage — and you’ve had a rough year for the CrackerJacks. And their attendance woes were shared by the rest of the league (DuPage is pacing the attendance stats at 596 fans a game; no one else is at 400 fans a game, and Rockford, DeKalb and Southland are under 240 a game). So Toole pulled the plug, notifying the Midwest Collegiate League’s Board of Directors of his decision to resign from the league last night.
“Each club in the league has a financial obligation to meet its debt payments to the league throughout the year,” said Commissioner Don Popravak via press release. “It is most unfortunate that Mr. Toole has made this decision.
“In our opinion, Jamie Toole’s decision to voluntarily resign his clubs from the League during the season significantly impacts the fifty-or-so college baseball players, managers and coaches that were recruited for his CrackerJacks and Illinois Lincolns teams. These baseball players, managers and coaches are the ones who are paying the very high price of not being able to continue their baseball development this summer. Additionally, it affects the communities that supported these players and clubs,” he added.
That’s not entirely true: the two teams will play the “Battle of Will County” best-of-five championship series beginning next week. And since the entire circuit ends its season on July 29, we’re not talking about too many league games missed. A new schedule for the remainder of the season will be issued today.
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